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21st Century Leadership Talent Search

07/18/2014 | 7 Comments

21st Century Leadership Talent Search

I just came across a very interesting article on leadership “talent spotting.” Fernandez-Araoz (2014) offers to us that potential needs to be our focus and that  experience is overrated. He further defines five key indicators suggesting that a future employee has potential: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. His position is based on the fact that the world is moving too fast, and that it is simply impossible to be able to clearly define the skills of tomorrow; therefore, we have to focus on the potential we see in others. Clearly, potential is not the be-all-and-end-all, since the same author speaks to other very important key indicators as we search for talent. He reminds us that intelligence, values, and leadership abilities are also important.

This is a very different way of looking at leadership talent and I have to admit that it makes perfect sense to me. I can relate to his thoughts. I have seen in my career too many “experienced” individuals, who simply could not adapt and innovate. I also recognize that my comments might be somewhat controversial for some of you. That being said:

  1. Do you think that potential is more important than experience?
  2. If so, why? 

Fernandez-Araoz, C. (2014). 21st Century Talent Spotting. Harvard Business Review, 92(6), 46-56.

Source: Sylvain "Syl" Trepanier, DNP, RN, CENP, past vice president & system chief nursing officer
Content Updated: 7/18/2014 11:51:07 AM
7 comments about this post
Jason Merritt 7/18/2014 3:34:10 PM

I agree with the focus on potential vs experience in evaluating potential staff and leadership. I don't believe this means we completely discount experience. There is value in what someone has done and has learned. The risk is when we only look at what a candidate has done in the past and do not truly evaluate the potential for what they can do in the future. Great article.

Annette Brumberg 7/22/2014 8:05:29 AM

I think it would be a balance of both potential and experience. I read about a case in California where experienced clinicians were not maintained in order to balance costs. Yes, the newer staff had potential but they did not have experience especially in critical thinking which resulted in a sentinel event with a negative patient outcome. I know of experienced individuals who have a lot of potential and continue to contribute to positive outcomes. I think we have to be cautious with focusing on one variable in this present environment where experienced individual’s positions are being eliminated and they do not perceive being valued in the workforce. Good food for thought. Thanks

Tiffany 7/22/2014 9:43:28 AM

Since when are "Potential" and "Experience" mutually exclusive? No matter the experience of the person aren't adaptibilty and innovation skills that can be learned and honed? Isn't part of our job as leaders to help develop these skills? Inexperience can be expensive. I have mixed feelings about this article. I know that "potential" has personally benefitted me, but it's the experience I've gained that has kept me on the path to growth.

Cathy Hall 7/22/2014 6:20:23 PM

I really enjoyed this post and I lean toward the potential as more important than experience in our fast paced and ever changing environment. That being said, balance is preferred and so I think our goal is to hire for potential and then as we mature we will have a workforce with potential and experience!

Alison Potts 7/27/2014 12:43:35 AM

Syl, I agree with your thoughts and the article that you brought forward about "talent spotting". I believe that under the right form of leadership and guidance the best talent with the appropriate traits can be more effective than experience. Thank you for sharing.

Dr. Syl 8/4/2014 2:31:55 PM

Thank you everyone for your comments. Tiffany, I appreciate your perspective and how challenging it is to revisit how we value "experience" and "potential". As I read the article I did not understood "potential" and "experience" to be mutually exclusive but rather the author challenged us to consider "potential" much more than we have in the past considering our current environment. Thank you for offering your thoughts.

Cindy M. 10/6/2014 8:02:23 PM

I know an RN who is contemplating a change of employer. But, being a newer nurse, she is concerned her non hospital experience is not enough for Premier to consider her. I think this blog topic is just what I needed to find so I can encourage her. See, we don't always "eat our young"! I never heard that terrible phrase until later in my career, thank goodness. I think it would have made me suspicious of my associates. I hope Premier sees her potential talent.

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